perceptions

Innocence and Sensibility: A Child’s Innocence vs. A Parent’s Comfort

by Lanae St.John, a.k.a. The MamaSutra, board-certified sexologist with the American College of Sexologists and professor of human sexuality at City College of San Francisco. Originally published here.

Let’s examine an example of a position I hear often as it relates to childhood sexual education:

“Childhood is a protected state where they can learn new things slowly, once they’re mature enough to handle them.

That’s why I think a child has the right not to know some things. I think they have a right not to know about the horror of war, except in general terms, until they enter the teenage years. I think they have a right not to know about sexuality inside and out. I think they have a right to be told only in vague terms about their parents’ neuroses, marriages or love lives.

Once you open that door into the adult world, you see, children have a difficult time just being children. Childhood innocence has been taken from them.” (
Source: https://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2014/08/childhood-innocence/)

Yes, children are innocent but here’s the problem with keeping them ignorant:

Adults are not innocent. So far trying to teach men not to rape isn’t working. We tell women how to lessen their chances of being raped, but even then they cannot avoid it completely. Which is a sad statement.








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The Power of Your Vulnerability

by Caitlin D'aprano, CEO of Willpowered Woman. Originally published here.

Vulnerability is about being honest about our past life events that have shaped who we are and what we may be feeling in the moment. Personally, admitting how much I want something and going for it makes me feel vulnerable.

Let me put it in to context. Five years ago I booked a one-way flight from Melbourne to London. I went there to start a shoe business and to work in the fashion industry. I landed amazing jobs with the Headquarters of Burberry, Harrods and REISS. I ensured that I got different jobs to gain experience for my shoe business. After I gathered enough experience, I ventured to do the shoe business alongside my own sales and business consultancy. I worked hard to make these things a success, but then came “my quarter life crisis”. I started to question everything, I felt like my life had no meaning, so I started searching. 

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Let's Welcome Alena, our Impact Development Director 

by Alena, Impact Development Director of Willpowered Woman. Originally published here.

My name is Alena and I’m from Russia. I joined Willpowered Woman as Impact Development Director last month. I have more than 5 years of experience in nonprofit organizations and have a diploma in social psychology and economics. Unfortunately, intimate partner abuse is paid very little attention in my Country. There aren’t any crisis centers or women’s shelter to help survivors. Recently, a law was passed by our Government that decriminalizes intimate partner violence. If a woman involves the Police for the first time, a man will not suffer any punishment. Growing up in Russia, women are brought up under different stereotypes: women should cook, clean the house and care for children, but men need to rest after work; the message is frequently communicated that if a woman isn’t married and doesn’t have children, she will be unhappy and have a sad life. There are a lot of women in Russia who think it’s normal if their husband hurts or humiliates them.

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Beautiful Project Youth Advisory Council

by Naomi Katz, Founder of Beautiful Project. Originally published here.

Announcing..Beautiful Project is now accepting applications for our
Youth Council! Open to women aged 15-25 who want to join a global community of young women who are inspired to create art and share it to empower themselves and others. Click here for more information and please, please share.  You can easily spread the word via the website, FacebookInstagram or Twitter.

The idea of the Youth Council came to me in part because I am inspired by the work of Aria Watson, an 18-year-old student in Oregon, who created the series #SignedByTrump, featuring photos of women who wear Trump's words on their naked bodies (including the photo above). Watson's work moves me because she is calling on us to pay attention, even more than we already are, by giving these horrific words a form - the female form. In doing so she, of course, further points out the toxic nature of these messages, and also - perhaps more importantly - takes a step toward making change by creating art. My teachers were right when they taught me that art calls the people to listen.


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In the Name of Our Daughters

by Naomi Katz, Founder of Beautiful Project. Originally published here.

I had already written my piece to share as we basked in the afterglow of finally electing a woman president.  I was so sure we were ushering in a new time, I was so optimistic about the future for ourselves and our daughters, and now I have to pause.

I pause because we have to think again about how we will support ourselves and our girls in the aftermath of this election. I pause to really think about relations between men and women, and what Trump’s victory might mean for our youth.

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Changing Culture is an Act of Love

Story by Kuei, Youth Ambassador of That's Not Cool, a project of Futures Without Violence. Originally posted on ThatsNotCool.com

My people are from the world’s newest nation of South Sudan and we carry our culture everywhere we go. I love and embrace my culture because that is what I grew up to do and I feel like it has made me the person I am today. I was born in Cairo, Egypt but my family was born and grew up in South Sudan. Even though I love my people, I think some of their values are oppressive. For example, that a woman’s goals and dreams should revolve around her being a wife and a mother and that they should obey the men in their lives, or that it is a man’s job to get at least one wife, have children and be the breadwinner for his family. Ever since I could remember, my mother was a single mom. My brothers and I did not have our dad in our lives and we watched my mother try to play both roles. She taught me the opposite of what she internalized. She taught me to be my own person and do what I want to do that would better my tomorrow.

My mother worked a lot and we lived with a lot of family. I watched a lot of unhealthy relationships that constantly went on through my life and I made an agreement with myself that I would never entertain an unhealthy relationship in my life. It did not really work well because I did not know what the signs where or how to go about it.

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REAL TALK about SEX

by Naomi Katz, Founder of Beautiful Project



“What if we spoke to kids about sex more instead of less, what if we could normalize it, integrate it into everyday life and shift our thinking in the ways that we (mostly) have about women’s public roles? Because the truth is, the more frankly and fully teachers, parents and doctors talk to young people about sexuality, the more likely kids are both to delay sexual activity and to behave responsibly and ethically when they do engage in it.”

- Peggy Orenstein, "When Did Porn Become Sex Ed?", NY Times, 19 March 2016


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Sexism, the Olympics, and What it REALLY Means to Admire a Woman's Body

by Naomi Katz, founder and director of the Beautiful Project. Originally posted on The Beautiful Project on August 18, 2016

At this moment in time, there are no teen girl heroes greater than the members of the US women's gymnastics team. They are absolutely DOMINATING the Olympics but yet somehow commentators are saying that they look like they “might as well be standing in the middle of a mall.” Seriously?

These Olympics have seen ample coverage that looks critically at the language used to talk about women athletes. People are outraged that Katie Ledecky is the “female Michael Phelps,” Corey Codgell is the “wife of a Bears' lineman,” Katinka Hozzsu's husband is “the man responsible” for her success. In “She's old, for a woman” (LA Times, August 11, 2016), Julie Makinen takes a very sharp look at these comments including when a “presenter asked Angolan handball star ‎Teresa "Ba" Almeida ...whether she preferred to get thinner or have a medal.” I mean, really.

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#ShareHerStory: How I Worship My Body and Accept My Disability

by Gigi Giscome. A version of the article was published on Blavity and Wear Your Voice

Is this what it feels like to feel absolutely beautiful? I look at my reflection in the mirror, studying every nook and cranny of my face, blushing slightly while everyone and everything in the room completely disappears. I see the mixture of love, sacrifices and ancestry it took to make me, Me. In that moment, I didn’t want to be anybody in the world but me. I felt nothing but self-love and gratitude.

Photo: Courtesy of author

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The Red Women Rising Campaign

by the California Consortium for Urban Indian Health (CCUIH). Originally published on CCUIH's website here.


The California Consortium for Urban Indian Health's Red Women Rising project supports culturally responsive domestic violence services for Urban Indians by increasing public awareness and enhancing collaborations between Urban Indian health organizations, domestic violence service providers and traditional healers. Earlier this year, CCUIH created a webpage that houses all of the Red Women Rising media so advocates can participate in their public awareness campaign and start important conversations about recognizing abuse, stopping violence, and healing as a community.

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Poem from New York

by Gabriella (Gabby) Valukh, Alto I singer and student at the San Francisco Girls Chorus. Originally published on the Girls Chorus' website here.

Hello from New York!

We have worked so hard to prepare for this tour that it is hard to believe we are finally here. On the flight to New York, while many slept, read, listened to music or occupied themselves to pass the time, I wrote a poem which I would like to share with you.

My Journey to New York

The low rumble of the engine surrounds me,
A constant radio—like static in the background,
As we gradually ascend into the air and fly through the sky.







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Vague feedback of “Lacks Executive Presence” is blocking senior women’s advancement

by Lori Nishiura Mackenzie, Executive Director of the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University. A version of this article was first published in the Huffington Post here.


Two years ago, when Sheryl Sandberg launched the campaign to “Ban Bossy” for young girls, women also cheered. Many women have been called bossy, or the adult version of the word, at some time. While some women receive direct feedback to act differently, more often, they are just told they lack the executive presence or influence to advance to the C-suite. In many instances, that criticism reflects stereotypes about who makes good leaders. While a long-term solution is to block the reliance on stereotypes when speaking about and evaluating senior women, we need immediate action. My solution? A new campaign to advance women leaders: Ban “Executive Presence.”

“Executive Presence” is often defined as commanding a room, having gravitas or communicating decisively. This critical leadership characteristic is rarely based on demonstrated behaviors, but instead on whether others perceive you as having it.


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Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

Post by Smruti Aravind, former Video Editor of Career Girls. Originally published in Career Girls' blog here.


It’s National Women’s Health Week, and a perfect opportunity to remind ourselves that our physical and mental health should be a priority, despite all our other responsibilities. It’s pretty straightforward to remember to schedule a checkup with your gynecologist, but navigating the maze of mental health can be more daunting.

The Alliance for Girls’ 4th Annual Conference featured a workshop that discussed tools you can use to make it easier. Social and Emotional Learning, or SEL, is an important component of academic and life success. SEL Tools can be put into practice beginning in grade school to help both girls and boys thrive, and are useful at any age.

You can practice the 5 core competencies of SEL by yourself, or in a small group:



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United State of Girls Summit & Rally

by Sandra Luna, Head of School of Julia Morgan School for Girls


Inspired by the United State of Women Summit taking place at the White House in June, Girls in Government, Leadership, and Service (GGLS), a before-school class at Julia Morgan School for Girls (JMSG), is hosting a United State of Girls Rally & Summit on Saturday, May 14, from 9:30 - 1:00.

We hope to have 100 middle and high school girls from public and private schools attend this special event. Our goal is to mobilize a national movement of teens 18 years and younger to finally pass the Equal Rights Amendment and the girls attending will be those girls who are willing to take on a leadership position in getting the ERA passed. We plan to create a short video by the end of the event that we can send to the White House!

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Professional Black Women are Dying for Inclusion

by Precious J. Stroud, founder of BlackFemaleProject and lead consultant for PJS Consultants. A version of this article appeared in the March/April 2016 edition of Daisy Magazine.


Has your boss ever said:

“You oversold yourself during the interview.”
“You are not meeting expectations.”
“You don’t know your place.”
“You go by that name at work?”
Or my favorite, “You seem angry.”

If not, imagine hearing statements like these over and over again from the person to whom you report.








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Looking Ahead

by Nakia Dillard, Founder and Director of Y-LEAP


I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to not only attend Alliance for Girl’s 3rd Annual Conference but to have had the amazing opportunity to speak on stage. This experience was so empowering for me as it was my first time speaking to a large crowd about Y-LEAP and the importance of investing in girls and young women. After I spoke I was surprised to get a standing ovation and to see so many people approach me afterwards. Not only did people come up to me to speak about future collaborations or to share their thoughts on my speech, people also followed up within a few weeks of the conference through Facebook, LinkedIn, and email.

Some of the manifestations that came forth after the conference included:

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Menstruation in the 4th wave: How my period helped me find my (feminist) voice

by Emma Sachat, sophomore at Wheaton College and intern at the Red Web Foundation

In most cultures, a girl’s first period is emblematic of womanhood. Her first period not only indicates that she is fertile, but welcomes her into the world of women rather than girls. For me, my first period was not so sacred. I began to realize I was a woman not because I was met with admiration and respect, but because my body and my ability to menstruate were regarded as vulgar and obscene. My period marked my coming to womanhood in that I learned how I was meant to feel about being a menstruating woman. And it was because I was so angered by the old-world attitudes towards my period that I began to grow into my feminist-self and develop my feminist thought. My period marked the beginning of a new awareness of unjust attitudes and language regarding women.

Despite being slightly embarrassed when I came home to the raspberry-topped cupcakes my mother had made to commemorate my coming into “womanhood”, my period was not initially a source of shame. I did not share the horrific first-period story as do so many women--bleeding through white pants onto a classroom chair, staining a bathing suit. Rather, my first period was uneventful, almost, it seemed, of no consequence at all. I did not regard my period as a great source of shame, nor did I see any reason to. I did not question my own body and my right to menstruate and talk about menstruation openly until I found myself in the presence of boys at my coed high school.

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STOP

by Robin Weathers, Jenna Cheli, Jessie Marshall, and Soli Tays, students of Cloverdale High School who won Best High School Film at the Alexander Valley Film Society for their film, STOP


Insecurities are something that everyone faces no matter the age, race, or gender. This unifying theme connects us all together throughout generations and will continue to connect us. Then why do we target these insecurities within other people? Why are they one of the most frequently used topics to hurt others with? People throw words at each other that target these insecurities whether they know it or not. Friends even make comments to them as jokes. These jokes are sometimes the ones that hurt the most.


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Girls in Government, Leadership, and Service

by Samantha Weil, Student at Julia Morgan School for Girls


In Julia Morgan School for Girls (JMSG), the goal is to prepare the confident, capable, creative, and compassionate women of tomorrow. In my opinion, JMSG isn’t just doing that, they are excelling at it. Not only are there classes where we learn, and create new skills to develop our minds for the future, but also there are many extracurricular activities in the mornings to go to. There are extracurriculars such as Band, Philanthropy Club, Math Club, and also Girls in Government, Leadership, and Service (GGLS).

GGLS is an incredible example of what JMSG wants their girls to be like in the real world. In Girls in Government, Leadership, and Service, we learn how to be activists. We talk about the meaning of activism, learn about women, and organize events to support feminism.




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Q&A with Marta Mendoza

Interview with Marta Mendoza, freshman at Immaculate Conception High School, about her experiences at AAUWSF's Tech Trek Science Camp


What was the Tech Trek Science Camp like?

“I was at Tech Trek's Camp Marie Curie at Stanford. They basically gave you a whole week to learn all the different types of science and math. We got to stay in the dorms and took challenging classes, including a robotics class where we had to figure out how to build and maneuver a Lego Mindstorm Mini Golf, which I’ve never done before. My favorite part was when, one of the nights, we heard from many women talking about their jobs and all the things women can do. That stuck with me because all these different women tried and they’re now at this point where they have a professional job and they’re good.”




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